Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Sam Wilson: Captain America 1, originally released October 14th, 2015.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
And to the republic for which it stands:
One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
-The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America.
Patrick: Have you ever considered how weird it is that the Pledge of Allegiance is a common fixture at the beginning of the school day? From my first day of kindergarten, until the last day of my senior year of high school, I either recited this thing, or stood silently with my hand on my heart while hundreds of other kids recited this thing in unison. Even without that “under God” jammed in there by Eisenhower, the pledge feels more like prayer than anything else — offering oneself up in the service of a singular benevolent entity. Of course, it’s not quite that simple: liberty and justice are pretty nebulous terms, and what they mean can vary hugely depending on your perspective. I think when I was a kid, I would have just as easily swapped out “liberty and justice” for “law and order” and not given it a second thought. But that’s not the country is really about: we’re founded on revolution, on challenging the status quo, on fighting for what we believe in. In Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña’s Sam Wilson: Captain America, Captain America embraces the more revolutionary aspects of his mantle, and while he’s certainly fighting for liberty and justice, he is decidedly anti-establishment. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released September 16th , 2015.
Taylor: Often times I wonder what my life would be like had I made an important choice, differently. When I try to make this abstract thought game more concrete, I think about the decision I made of where to go to college. My life would be incomparably changed if I had attended a different university. Different friends, maybe a different major, and most likely living in a different city for the past eight years of my life. Hawkeye 5 at first has us thinking big choices never affect the totality of our lives, but as events unfold, it becomes clear a single choice can affect your life greatly.
Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 3, originally released May 27th, 2015.
Spencer: Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye got a lot of mileage out of a deceptively simple mission statement: “Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.” What Clint does when not being an Avenger is an insanely broad concept, but in Fraction’s run it quickly narrowed into a focus on how Clint handled loss. When tasked with the duty of following up on a run as iconic as Fraction’s, it’s no surprise that Jeff Lemire flipped everything on its head, changing the mission statement to “This is what [Clint Barton and Kate Bishop] do when they do what they do best.” Lemire’s concept of focusing on Clint as a super-hero is even broader than Fraction’s, and as I’ve pored over the last few issues of All-New Hawkeye, I’ve been waiting for his story to similarly build some kind of deeper overarching theme. This month’s issue in particular is almost screaming that it has some sort of deeper meaning or underlying message, yet I’m struggling to come up with one. I’m starting to think that I’ve been approaching this title all wrong. If this is a book about what Clint and Kate do when they do what they do best, then maybe what’s most important are the actual details of what they’re doing. Fortunately, those details are pretty charming. Continue reading →
Patrick: One of the universal experiences of the comic book reader is the gradual sense that you’re actually getting to know these characters. Readers watch them grow and evolve, and there’s frequently running voiceover to add extra context to their actions. You ever notice that comic fans are much quicker to refer to Superman as “Clark” than people that just know him as a cultural icon? Surely, everyone knows that Superman is Clark Kent, but only those of us that feel close to him would have the audacity to use his first name. But what happens when a comic series actively keeps the protagonist’s perspective at arm’s length? Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow shows off a Natasha Romanova that can only really be herself when hidden from everyone else. That includes Bucky Barnes, the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., you and me. Continue reading →
Marvel’s flagship film franchise landed its second installment this weekend, assembling the Avengers to take on Ultron. Secrets were revealed! Tears were shed! Scenery was chewed! Spoilers for sure after the break: welcome to the Chat Cave.Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Avengers 39, originally released December 10th, 2014.
Spencer: When you read enough comics, you start to see certain repeated themes and styles emerge among various writers. Brian Michael Bendis is known for dialogue-heavy, somewhat decompressed comics. Kieron Gillen makes no attempt to hide his musical influences and knack for clever dialogue. Geoff Johns loves to rehabilitate long-forgotten or mishandled characters and concepts (and is also a bit infamous for cutting off his characters’ arms). Jonathan Hickman, meanwhile, is probably best known for his cerebral, somewhat detached style of writing that can spend years setting things up before finally letting all the dominos fall into place. With this week’s Avengers 39 we’re getting closer and closer to the end of Hickman’s Avengers epic, but the most interesting part of the issue is the commentary Hickman seems to be making on his own writing style. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Spencer are discussing Secret Avengers 10, originally released November 26th, 2014. Greg: I studied a lot of television history in college, and there are many similarities between that medium and comic books. Particularly, there’s a notable trend in both mediums from self-contained, episodic units that could be watched and appreciated with no greater context, to highly serialized, novelistic longform works that have identifiable cause-and-effect and require consumers to know their stuff. TV content creators seem to understand this is a primary method of creating and consuming TV now, with binge-watching services like Netflix and Hulu taking storm, and even half-hour sitcoms serializing like crazy (I would not recommend jumping into New Girl halfway through, for example). Comic book creators, however, still seem to try and cater to both extremes of readership; in the case of Secret Avengers 10, they manage to succeed, but just barely. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing Black Widow 12, originally released November 19th, 2014.
Suzanne: Have you ever looked at your job description six months into a new job and chuckled to yourself? Rarely do expectations and generally-worded guidelines from corporate align themselves with real-life experiences. How about that summer internship when you felt more like a barista than a business student? Natasha Romanova feels your pain in Black Widow 12, as jobs constantly pull her away from her preferred role as a spy. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 7, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Drew: Last month, in our discussion of Daredevil 6, I was struck by the darker, distinctly Miller-esque tone of that issue, wondering “is it a sign of respect to that era of Daredevil history, or an assertion that a return to that style would only bring pain?” I don’t know what would compel me to apply such a simple binary to this series, but true to form, Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez manage to deliver an answer that is somehow both and neither option. Waid’s run has been all about pulling that darkness into the light (with a twist), and this issue distills that theme into a charming bite-sized little adventure. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Secret Avengers 4, originally released June 11th, 2014.
Spencer: I’m a big proponent of comics being goofy, and due to my embracing the sillier aspects of comic books, I’ve been a big fan of Secret Avengers thus far. Still, it’s way too easy for “silly” to cross some sort of line, becoming corny or cringe-worthy or sometimes just tonally jarring. I liked last month’s issue a lot more than Drew and Shelby did, but I still have to agree with them that some of the issue’s more bizarre jokes felt out of place amongst the drama of the story itself. That’s not a problem in issue four, though. Gone are the random (if funny) throwaway gags; instead, Ales Kot and Michael Walsh embrace the inherent ridiculousness of their cast and the world they live in without ever betraying the high stakes of the mission itself. Continue reading →